"When I saw the room, because of its architecture and barrel ceiling, I knew it would lend itself toward doing something that was a little unique," Riggins says. "I wanted a tropical, yet Caribbean theme. I ended up creating an atmosphere, not just a room. People walked into the room and felt that it was a sanctuary. They found it so inviting."
This feeling is established with the use of rich, printed fabrics and is compounded with the use of thematic decorative hardware and light-filtering woven wood shades. "I started immediately looking at fabrics," Riggins says. "We went through everything. Whatever I found to coordinate the look we used." Next came unique monkey hardware from Amore Drapery Hardware. "It started building from that," she adds.
Adding to the atmosphere was a color pallet of russet, amber, gold, azure blue and teal; rich wood furnishings; a bamboo tree; a banana tree; and background music of chirping birds and the sound of water. "Men loved it, as well as women," Riggins says. "It was a room they could either entertain in or find a respite, or just read a book before dinner."
The final design showcases Riggins' attention to detail, thought and planning. "The hardest thing when we come up with a concept is trying to see it through," she explains. "I have to say that I was so excited when it was finished. It really did turn out the way I had envisioned it."
With 14 windows, including French doors, Riggins knew she would have to dress the sunroom's windows. "Which is what I wanted to feature," she says. The treatments include bamboo shades from B &W Mfg. overtreated with silk swags and panels from Travers & Co. Because the home sits on a heavily trafficked street, Riggins also had to address privacy as well as sunlight and heat.
"These shades did an excellent job because not only did they take care of my concerns, but they were very appealing and lent something to the room's whole atmosphere with filtered light," she says. What's more, because the windows opened into the room, the treatments had to be functional as well as decorative. "We had to mount, carefully, every panel and every shade so when the door opened, the shade went with it. The treatments were basically simple, but they dressed the windows to create the theme. I didn't want to overdress them, but I wanted to get fabric and texture in there." A real bamboo pole was installed along the top above the windows with beaded pelmets between them so they would not hinder the operation of the windows.
The room's furnishings are coordinated using fabrics from Lafayette Interior Fashions' Select Masterpieces on the cushions and throw pillows. The room is finished with a sisal rug on the hard wood floors and a breathtaking faux ceiling painting of a realistic evening sunset by Keith Irons. He also created a faux stone wall around the top of the room. "The whole idea was to make it look like a lanai, as though you could look up and see the sky," Riggins says. With uplights placed in the corners and a central hanging lantern, the lighting effect brought the sunset to life.
OPPORTUNITY TO STAND OUT
Located in southern New Jersey, twenty minutes from Philadelphia, PA, Inside Outlook sits on Route 42, the area's main highway leading to the seashore, which makes the Inside Outlook showroom highly visible to potential customers.
Riggins has been in business for 15 years, beginning as Trends and Traditions and doing mostly commercial work—offices and restaurants. "Somehow it escalated into residential, then heavily into draperies," she says. This is her third year in her current showroom as Inside Outlook, which offers total interior design services. Riggins also sells retractable, exterior fabric awnings. "That's why my slogan is 'Dress your windows, inside and out,'" she explains.
Inside Outlook is a regular decorator at area showhouses. Riggins has gotten a lot of work and interest from her efforts, but admits it doesn't come cheaply. For example, she had to purchase much of the materials and furnishings for this year's room herself and, in the end, the showhouse owners decided not to keep the room as Riggins designed it. It is now a child's playroom. But Riggins sees showhouses as an opportunity to stand out. "I will only do one if I can get a room that really peaks my attention. I always like to feature a mural artist or faux artist because that shows you do that as well.
"I try to have a competitive edge. I try to be unique. The whole concept of doing a showhouse is to feature what you do," Riggins says. "It was a fun venture and I was extremely passionate about it because I enjoyed it so much."
This year's showhouse was a fund raising event sponsored by the Deborah Hospital Foundation in Browns Mills, NJ, for the Deborah Heart and Lung Center; the house is located in Moorestown, NJ.